Five last minute Mother’s Day tips for small retailers

Five last minute Mother’s Day tips for small retailers

I haven’t shopped for Mother’s Day yet, and I bet I’m not alone. There’s still time! Americans are expected to spend nearly $175 on mom this year, up $10 from last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day Spending … Continue reading

First tasting generates smiles, not just due to wine

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I attended the first wine tasting of Mt. Town Wine Club last night, the group I launched recently on behalf of Jim Holton, owner of Mountain Town Station in Mt. Pleasant. The gathering was small, but a big success. Every one of the 10 people attending left feeling happy … and not just from the wine! The smiles were a reflection of exceeding expectations.

Luckily my task was only to promote the event, helping encourage people to come mostly through the Facebook Group page, and other various social media channels. The details associated with ensuring the event was a smashing success were the job of Hillary Williams, and she hit it out of the park with our first event. From the informative tasting placemats, the generous pours, easy to fill out wine order forms and the outstanding appetizer spread … everything was above and beyond.

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Together Hillary and I have partnered to gather a community of wine lovers, generate conversation and camaraderie, offer opportunities to come together, get to know each other and learn about and drink wine. The Facebook Group community is our chance to communicate and share interesting, fun things related to wine. These tastings are our chance to actually meet each other face-to-face, expand our knowledge and share a glass.

Last night Wine Club members gathered around a table inside Camille’s on the River with a shared love for wine. an interest in tasting some new varietals and becoming a bit more educated about wine. We introduced ourselves as we took our seats and we raised a glass, sharing a toast as the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group. Sommelier Belinda Ladouce of Fabiano Brothers walked us through the four wines and shared her wealth of knowledge about winemaking in Washington State as well as all things wine. The intimate setting allowed for lots of questions and conversation.

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From the exceptional selection of wines to the incredible spread of appetizers, which paired beautifully with the wines, everyone walked away happy to be part of the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group, and looking forward to the next tasting. Here are just a few of the take aways from last night’s event (some wine related, some wine club friend related):

Wine Notes:

  • There are more than 600 wineries in Washington State, it is the nation’s second largest wine producer with 50,000 acres planted.
  • Washington has 13  American Viticultural Areas (AVA), federally designated wine grape-growing region in the United States all but one located in Eastern Washington.
  • Washington Ranks 2nd nationally in premium wine production.
  • White Riesling among most popular wine produced in Washington.

Wine Club Members Chatter:

  • Red wine lovers surprisingly liked the Riesling from Ryan Patrick Vineyards. “Who knew we could like a sweet white?” “Light … nice for summer.”
  • The grilled Halloumi cheese on top of piece of grilled biscotti, followed by taste of the Chardonnay described as “an explosion in your mouth.” (it really was yummy, my first taste of Halloumi cheese ever. I loved it.)
  • Best for last … the 2009 Red Wine from Shining Hill was definitely worth the wait. “This tops off the night.”

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Four marketing lessons learned at a favorite local shop

I spent my lunch hour in a shop in our downtown the other day because, well, I was invited. I came away with four marketing lessons from my visit. Continue reading

Three lessons learned from my favorite tree falling

before - last view

I’m not necessarily the tree-hugging type. Although these days my husband and a few family members might disagree. Having to cut down a big beautiful tree in the front yard of our cottage touched me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

A huge limb randomly fell from this beloved tree the other evening. Sitting on the patio, we heard a strange crackling sound. We turned our heads to watch a big branch break away and fall onto our neighbor’s roof and yard.The sound was startling, the falling limb frightening and the experience one I won’t soon forget. Thankfully no injuries to report, however it has left a very obvious void in our yard.

limb down limb decay

Viewing the decay causing the limb to fall, it was apparent the tree had to go. The process was not going to be simple. The Box Elder tree was enormous and tucked tightly between cottages in our yard. A crane was required for the job. The four-man tree removal crew included a guy who’s job involved riding up with the crane into the tree and repelling to cut limbs for the crane to lift onto trailers. It’s a skill the young guy in his 20’s learned from the 70-year-old owner of the company, who was up in a tree himself repelling and cutting within the last year. Owning the tree company for 40 years, John has climbed lots of trees and cut many limbs. Only a few years ago he began employing the help of a crane operator to expedite the removal process.

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Cutting down and removing the entire tree, which they estimated to be more than 60 years old after counting the rings in the base, was an amazing process to watch.  I never realized such equipment existed to do these kind of jobs and the type of skills and training required. I have tremendous respect for the crew involved in each part of the removal process, from limb cutting, log loading to stump grinding.

stump counting lines

As the “family photographer” I recorded the entire procedure and shared photos with my husband while he was stuck working. Included below is a collection of photos of the tree removal experience.

tree & crane

Along the way, I took away a few lessons that I never expected. Here’s a rundown of what I learned from the loss of our favorite tree.

  • Embrace change … of every shape & size. I consider myself a change agent. I typically welcome change. However, when it involves removal of a tree, particularly a tree that has a very long history, that tends to strike a different nerve. Following the tree removal, I admit to appreciating the additional sunshine in our yard. I’m coming around and getting used to it being gone. .
  •  Don’t get too attached … probably easier said than done. In the case of our beloved tree, it served as our umbrella over our fire pit and shaded our yard. However, the sunshine is nice and we shall buy big umbrellas to keep on hand,
  • Appreciate good service … the tree company we hired was a small local guy, referred and highly recommended by a neighbor. Good idea and good job done! With 40 years experience, it’s easy to see how this 70-year-old has built a solid business cutting down trees. His knowledge, experience and care for doing the job all the way to the end is clearly why his business has thrived for all these years. And he has hired and mentored an enthusiastic crew.
  • Crane operating is great business … in watching the entire process it hit me — the guy who owns/runs the crane has a pretty good thing going on. He was young, maybe early 30s, had purchased the crane (a very big investment), was trained in operating it and subcontracts himself and his crane out for hire. Not a bad gig, considering John our tree cutting owner says he’s given this crane operator about $68,000 in business in the last year, and he’s only one of the crane operator’s clients. Heads up to all the young guys (or gals) out there wondering what major to choose in college.

upside down tree in air tree stump cut tree man tree limb guy tree in air tree in air over Barretts tree decay tree coming down stump rising stump in truck log in air limb on crane limb in air limb cut last branch cut stump cut broken limb

4 tips from the self-dubbed family photographer

I recently uploadeda photo album to my Facebook page highlighting the many smiles and laughter shared during our annual summer family gathering. The album includes photos snapped by me and my father-in-law throughout the holiday weekend. As the kids whip out their iPhones to capture moments, we reach for our 35 mm digital cameras (mine a Canon Rebel, dad’s a Canon Sureshot). The younger generation could view us as outdated, but instead they greet us with happy grins when asking them to smile and pose.

FB album

Granted smartphones offer an easy option to photography these days. And the many editing apps available allow for a whole new level of creativity in online photography.  I also whip out my iPhone 5 often to shoot, upload, edit and post to social media. But there’s still no replacement for a photo taken with a real camera.

My love for cameras and photography is something I inherited from my dad, who in turn got it from his dad. Grandpa spent his career surrounded by the latest photography equipment of the day as a camera buyer for the former J.L. Hudson Company. We grew up lining up and squeezing together for group photos at every event and blinded by the bright lights of the old movie cameras while blowing out birthday candles.We moaned and groaned in counting to three and saying cheese for what seemed like a million times at every family gathering. However, to this day the photo albums filled with these pictures are the favorite things when visiting my parent’s house.

Following our family get-togethers my dad was known for dashing off to Walmart to get his photos developed and quickly placed in an album to show off the latest activity. He even had a numbering system where the back of each photo was marked so the matching negative could be identified, in case someone wanted copies.

Nowadays those photo albums lined up on my parent’s fireplace hearth have been replaced with digital photo albums posted online. I feel as though I’ve stepped into my dad’s role as our family’s chief photographer. I’m armed with my camera and snapping pictures at our many life events and activities and then hurrying to upload, edit, post and share them.

Luckily the task no longer requires a trip to Walmart for processing. As the family photographer there are a few tricks I’ve learned about capturing moments, editing photos and posting and sharing. Perhaps these four tips will be helpful to other family photographers. If you play the role of photographer in your family, I’d love to hear any tricks you’ve learned.

4 family photographer tips

  • Capture smiles in action: perhaps it’s a result of all those years lining up, squeezing together and saying cheese, but I tend to avoid forced group photos. I opt for a bit more spontaneity and go for a stop in the midst of action shots.

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  • Less is usually more:  I find photos with two to three people turn out better and are preferred over photos with larger groups. You can just plain see a couple people’s faces, expressions and emotions better when there’s just a few in the photo.

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  • People are preferred: I use the term “peoplize” in working clients to create content. My point … include people always (or as often as possible). People prefer seeing people in photos. Test this theory yourself, look at a collection of photos and see which ones your eye is drawn to. I’m betting on the people pics.

 

  • A little editing goes a long way: I recently discovered picmonkey.com and I run every photo through the easy-to-use online editing suit before posting. Regardless of how perfect the shot, I’ve found a dash of color and a pinch sharpening can enhance any photo. If you haven’t tried a photo editor, picmonkey.com is free and very user-friendly. If you’re a Mac user, it compares to iPhoto. Can’t say enough about photo editing.

5 habits for personal happiness every day

With all of content related to being happy hitting my radar lately, I’m feeling prompted to write about happiness. I’ve come across a few bloggers who’ve selected a “word for the year.” Perhaps happiness should be mine. I shared a … Continue reading

In order to make it, you have to be really ambitious. Talent without ambition is nothing; you have to drive yourself to make things. And it’s the same thing with creativity: if you have a lot of ambition without creativity, you might not go anywhere.

Via Cartoon Network’s VP of Creative Design Jacob Escobedo (via creativesomething)

Exactly – ambition without creativity = nothin

(Some of) What I Learned From My Years on NPR’s Social Media Desk

socialmediadesk:

Monday starts a new road for me at NPR. After several great years, I’m leaving the Social Media Desk and moving on to work in Business Partnerships. I am proud to leave the social media desk in the more-than-capable hands of Wright Bryan and Melody Kramer, not to mention the hundreds of…

Spot on about social media!

(Some of) What I Learned From My Years on NPR’s Social Media Desk

Three ‘concrete’ steps to add more creative people to my life

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Surrounding myself with more creative people in 2014 is my personal priority. But it’s not something I plan to keep to myself. My plan, in drawing more creative folks into my life, is to share those I encounter and the inspiration I receive from them with as many people as I can.

As for some “concrete steps” to go about achieving this goal (thanks for the coaxing blogger Colleen Newvine Tebeau) I will seek to connect with creatives regularly in the following ways…

  • In conversation – face-to-face is my preference, so whenever possible I’ll opt for lunch or a drink. However, the luxury of the internet and social media also provides opportunity for conversation of a different sort.
  • Through reading – much inspiration can be gained by reading and/or following of favorite writers, bloggers, columnists. I have a handful on my preferred list. I will follow them more diligently and provide comments in hopes of generating conversation and ultimately a relationship.
  • From writing – this will allow me to introduce the creative people I meet and share the inspiration I gain. I’d hate to be selfish. My hope is you gain some inspiration, too.

Stay tuned. Creativity and inspiration on the way.